Apr 16, 2023

A husband on the fence, asks "Is raising a child without a village right for us?"

4 min read

A husband is on the fence of having children because they lack a support system (village) and asks the internet if others have experienced this.

Since I like to look deeper into questions, I get a sense he is also asking "Is raising a child without a village right for us? And will it be as fine as my wife said it would be?"

"My wife (33F) and I (33M) have always talked about children being in our future but that has changed for me over the last 12 months or so. The reason I am so hesitant is because we have no support system where we live. No family and not many friends. We currently live in the US where my wife is from. I am Australian and all my family are in Australia. My wife is not close to any of her family members so it will just be the two of us.
My wife thinks everything will be fine but I truly don't think she understands just how much our lives will change. I'm a very anxious person in general and the thought of having no one around to give us a break terrifies me.
Is there anyone else out there who is on the fence because they have no "village"?"

Here is my answer:

Although you ask if there are others on the fence about having children without a village, it also sounds like you are asking, "Is raising a child without a village right for us? And will it be as fine as my wife said it would be?"

As others provide their experiences, I'll focus on this question to help, by providing you questions to reflect on.

Your doubts about having children without a village are valid, especially considering what a difference a village can make for both parents and their children. It's great that you're talking to friends and family about the parenting experience, as they can provide valuable insight.

My main questions to reflect on:

How do you and your wife define how "fine" looks like?

Will you be able to build a village, even a small one?

How do you and your wife define how "fine" looks like?

  • What will each parent's availability be?
    • Consider maternity/paternity leave, work schedules, and possible changes.

  • How involved is each parent willing to be with the child? Really think about this, because the child will be with either parent 24/7 if there isn't another caregiver.
  • Will childcare responsibilities be 50/50 or some other ratio? Discuss and come to an agreement.
    • Consider time availability, personalities, and personal beliefs; be honest and realistic.

  • How important is sleep to you and your wife? How tolerant are you of sleep deprivation?
  • Will you need other caregivers like nanny (day/live-in) or daycare? Answering the above questions may give you a sense of whether hired help is needed.
  • If so, research the cost and factor in the length of care needed. In general, I recommend having a caregiver immediately after the birth to help your wife's recovery.
  • Map out how child care will look like for the first 5 years. Especially if you plan to enroll in daycare and preschool.
    • Public schools are free starting in kindergarten. While most daycare centers and preschools charge a fee. Research daycares cost in your area. These costs can last for years, and I encounter many parents who shift career plans to juggle between time with their child and childcare expenses.

    Will you be able to build a village, even a small one?

    Having a village or support system, no matter how small, can make a significant difference. Even if you live far away from your family, which you primarily refer to as your village, it is still possible to build one around you? Your family can still provide support from long distance. And support close by can be friends and people in a community.

    With your family overseas, ask how much they are willing to support you. I have seen families offer financial support, gifts, and short-term visits to help.

    • Evaluate existing friendships, look at which ones to strengthen, which ones to scale back on. As parents enter parenthood, it is common to have less time for socializing and social events. This is the time to be selective with friendships and to nurture those that can be supportive.
    • I see you mention having few friends, but can you consider making new friends who can be part of your village? They may not be able to provide the same level of help that family members can, but the support they provide can be tremendously powerful.
    • Families with children of a similar age or who are going through a similar experience as you are easy to connect with. And they are often looking for support as well.
    • Direct childcare support from nannies, daycare centers, and babysitters. These can be the most helpful, allowing you to rest and focus on other life priorities. They are a significant expense, but the benefits they provide can outweigh the cost.

    Other community supports to explore:

    • Existing friends with newborns or young children.
    • Neighborhood and community with families with young children.
    • Childbirth and parenting-related group classes in your area
    • Communities that appeal to you - shared interests, hobbies, religion/spirituality.

    As you reflect on these questions and develop a child care plan, you will hopefully have more clarity about whether starting a family would work in your situation. Or at the very least, it may help you consider next steps in your process.